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Divorce, separation and civil 3C

Civil partnership dissolution

Ending a civil partnership is never easy. To help you understand what’s involved, we have prepared a helpful guide to the dissolution process below:

How dissolution works

In order to apply for a dissolution, you must have been in a civil partnership for at least one year. You must also be able to show that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. You are able to prove this in four ways:

  • Your partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her (‘unreasonable behaviour’)
  • You and your partner have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the making of the application and your partner agrees to the dissolution being made (‘two years’ separation’)
  • You and your partner have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the making of the application. There is no need for your partner to consent (‘five years’ separation’)
  • Your partner has deserted you for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the making of the application (‘desertion’)

We will advise you on which ground will be most suitable on the basis of your own personal circumstances.

Starting the process

The party who issues the petition to dissolve the partnership is called the applicant and the other party is the respondent. The process is largely the same whichever ground is relied upon to prove the breakdown. There will be differences in the information to be included in the petition and we will discuss this with you to deal with your specific needs and circumstances. The following is an outline of the process:

  • You issue your petition
  • The court sends a copy to your partner
  • He/she completes and returns an acknowledgement of service form to the court to confirm he/she agrees to the dissolution. (Your partner can defend the dissolution but this is very rare.)
  • Assuming the dissolution is undefended, you can apply for a conditional dissolution order, the first of two orders needed
  • After six weeks and one day you can apply for a final dissolution order, which legally brings an end to the civil partnership. It is often advisable to delay applying for the final order until financial issues have been settled. This is because a party may lose the right to share in certain investments by virtue of that order, for example pension entitlement

You will need to settle financial matters in relation to, for instance, the family home, any other property, maintenance, pensions and savings or investments with your partner. Usually division of finances is resolved separately but alongside the dissolution proceedings. We are able to advise you in this respect also. Please see ‘finances on divorce or dissolution’ which is also available on our website.

What are the costs involved?

If you apply for a dissolution then a court fee is payable on issuing the petition. Your legal costs will vary depending on your particular circumstances and whether you are the applicant or respondent and the complexity of your case. We will of course discuss costs with you at your initial meeting and ensure that you are kept up to date throughout the proceedings.

Our experienced team of family solicitors are happy to answer any questions you have on civil partnerships and dissolution. You can contact us via our offices in Bournemouth, Southampton and London.

Contact our Family Law specialists

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